Leadership, Transformation

The Social Artist – Leadership for the 21st century

Note: This is an excerpt from the article. The complete article is available in the Fall/Winter 2004 issue.

Introduction to Social Artistry

Let us explore the nature and development of our call to service in
ways that link inner and outer realities, universal plans and passionate
commitment. Let us ask what to do, where to go, how to take initiative
and how to understand our role as leader and social artist in this most
compelling moment of human history. Let us reflect on the need for a new
kind of leader, a social artist who is also artful of the ways of the
inner landscape.

Too many of the problems in societies today stem from leadership that
is ill prepared to deal with the chaos and complexity of today’s world
where too much is happening too quickly. This is not just a matter of
inadequate training in the realities of global change, but even more
tragically, a lack of human resourcefulness, leaders living out of a
field of awareness that is both limited and limiting in their abilities
to deal with the world as it is today. Worldwide, societies are crying
for assistance in the transformation of their citizens, organizations,
and institutions. But sadly leaders who can rise to the challenge are
hampered by training that leaves the greatest of the student’s natural
resources unexplored and insufficient. The leader, like most of society,
emerges as a highly compromised version of what he or she could be. And
the state of the world reflects this in a most dangerous way.

The density and intimacy of the global village and the staggering
consequences of our new knowledge and technologies make us directors of a
world that has, up to now, mostly directed us. What is alarming is the
absence of social artists (i.e., skilled facilitators, entrepreneurs and
leaders) to advise and lead the shift to new values and practices. The
usual formulas and stopgap solutions born of an earlier era will not
help us.

Let us consider then the art and science of transformation
leadership, leadership that is one of the mysteries of the human as he
or she lives a life of alignment, refinement and contact to the divine
purposes and patterns of evolutionary possibilities. This is the art of
world making, spirit catching, mind growing, soul quaking leadership.

Introducing Jean Houston

“Jean Houston dominates the room with her larger-than-life presence
and crackling wit. She is a walking encyclopedia, reciting poems,
passages from great works of literature, historical facts and scientific
data all in the same breath,” says Senator Hillary Clinton. Scholar,
philosopher and researcher in human capacities, Jean has worked in 40
cultures helping to deepen their own uniqueness as they become part of
the global community. Recipient of numerous global awards for her
service to humanity, she is one of the foremost visionary thinkers and
doers of our time. Author of 18 books she works on the frontiers of the
new global society training paradigm pioneers in social artistry. She is
a consultant to UNDP and Advisor to UNICEF in human and cultural
development – implementing education and health programs in such places
as Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh as well as with numerous indigenous
peoples. She has been advisor to Eleanor Roosevelt, President and
Senator Clinton. and works with a small group associated with the Dalai
Lama. Her PBS Special, A Passion for the Possible conveys her ability to
inspire and invigorate people with her vision – the finest possible
achievement of the individual and cultural potential in a global

She continues to work closely with the United Nations Development
Program, particularly in retraining leadership in social artistry in the
arena of decentralized governance in order to accomplish the Millennium
Development Goals. In 2004 she will train leaders in Albania, Barbados,
Panama, Brazil, the Philippines and China. Participants in these
programs are invited to influence political and economic institutions
that effect their lives as well as to meet their individual needs and

In Jean’s own words, “Today, community participation and the
empowering of grass roots development are essential to transforming the
quality of life in societies everywhere. It is through work at these
local levels that hope is generated for new and effective ways of shared
governance. As Kofi A. Annan has said, ‘Good governance is perhaps the
single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting
development.’ It has been my experience that working in Social Artistry
at both local and individual levels lays the foundation for good